The Curse Of Sleeping In

So far, I have lived my life blessed by perfect health. I’ve never broken a bone, I’ve never spent a night at the hospital and my hair shows no sign of receding any time soon. Other than seasonal allergies and chronic sinus pressure, I have been lucky enough to survive the past 28 years without any major physical medical conditions. However, there is one problem that has been plaguing me for as long as I can remember and I have yet to find a solution for it.

I am unable to wake up early. And it is taking its toll on me.

Yes, I am aware that out of all the problems I could possibly have in my life, this is by far the least important and the most easily fixed. “Get some alarm clocks,” you could say to me, “and stop being lazy.” You could suggest that I go to bed earlier; that I drink a cup of Sleepytime Herbal Tea every night before bed; that I have my roommates come in every morning and throw water at me/punch me in the face.

All these are perfectly reasonable suggestions, and all could understandably be said with more than just a touch of scorn when you say it. But the fact remains that I have tried all these methods (and many, many more). I have at least five alarm clocks, none of which have snooze buttons and none even close to being at arm’s length from my bed. I have set up habits that put me in a sleepy mood earlier in the evening. I have taken pills. I have done everything save be shocked with a cattle prod in the morning. (…now, there’s an idea…) Going to bed earlier makes absolutely no difference — in fact, I’m actually more tired when I go to bed at 9 than when I do at 11. I tried Ambien one time at about 6 p.m. and I woke up at 3 p.m. the next day. Despite my every effort, I am still unable to separate myself from my bed sheets and achieve the magic combo: both at an early hour, and fully rested.

Yes, I am somewhat of a nightowl. Yes, I feel I can achieve a lot at night. I was the master of all-nighters in college. But I actually love mornings. When I was very young, my parents (who have always been early-risers) would go waterskiing every morning, and they would wake me up at dawn to take me on the speedboat with them. I loved it. I love the smell of mornings. I love the idea of waking up with enough time to shower, shave, make some coffee and have breakfast while taking in some early news, and arrive at work 5 or 10 minutes before I’m supposed to be there. This would be perfection.

As it stands, however, I fully gain consciousness 5 minutes before entry time at work, with all my alarm clocks off (despite the fact that I’d set them all on the night before), with my phone in my hand (alarm off, of course) despite the fact that I’d left it charging on my desk the night before, and with absolutely zero energy to get up. This is the case every day.

Now, I commend my dad for being able to wake me up every day in time throughout my high school years. In college, 8:30 classes were my bane — my advisor coined the term “pulling an Emil” for anyone who arrived late. I have missed planes and trains and midterms and breakfast dates. Whenever I’ve traveled and stayed with family friends, I haven’t slept for fear of waking up extremely late and being impolite to my hosts.

But all this pales in comparison to the damage this does at work. I know for a fact that all my past employers would list “tardiness” as the number one negative against me. At one of my old jobs, we got a new boss that liked to have a “smart hours” schedule, which I took to mean as flexible arrival/departure time, and my heart sank when she explained it as “arrive early, leave early.” Six months later, I was laid off. Now, I consider myself a hard worker, but I am aware that everything I bring to the table is chipped away by the simple fact that I am not at my desk at a certain point in time. Ideally, I could find a job that would let me come in late, or come in and out as I please, but so far, no dice.

To say that this is embarrassing to me is an understatement. It makes me look unprofessional and unprepared. It probably means I am both of those things. Being in my late twenties and having most of the basics of life checked off (a roof over my head, a decent job, a ramen-less diet), sleeping in is one of the last vestiges of pre-school-like behavior (along with an affinity for comic books and mildly-soggy Frosted Flakes) that I need to eliminate from my behavioral patterns at all costs. I literally cannot keep sleeping on my laurels.

On Sunday, the US switched to Daylight Savings Time, which I have never been able to fully understand save for the fact that it takes one precious hour of sleep away — one less hour to find myself at the office. Needless to say, Daylight Savings Time scares the crap out of me. But I shall endeavor to be at the office on time all this week. And the next. And the next. (And the next.)

Bring it on, Daylight Savings Time. Bring it on. TC mark

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  • dmitry

    You’re alright.

  • guest

    Are you me?  I go through this every morning.  Today included.

  • steph

    Bloody hell, this is exactly me.  Except I moved to a place free of daylight savings.

  • audrey

    this is my life. missed my 930 class this morning cuz i overslept even with 4 alarms 

  • Kthpence

    I like this article and it’s definitely relatable. What I’ve never been able to grasp while I’ve lived on this planet is “morning people.” How could anyone in their right mind be a morning person? Mornings fucking suck and what sucks more is loving them. Gtfo morning people.

    • Aria

      …but mornings are…pretty. *crawls into corner with other rejected morning people*

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

      you’re obviously unemployed, maybe eking out a meager life from unemployment checks and saving up to buy organic wood frames for your 20/20 vision but you think it’s just cool

  • SBG

    On the plus side, maybe metro is a little less crowded by the time you roll out.

  • http://twitter.com/londondear doreen

    This is completely how I roll. Three alarms, and capable of sleeping through all of them. 

    I think I need to just get one of my housemates to burst into my room and shout “FIRE!!” in order to wake me up in the mornings. But even then after a few times I might manage to just ignore him or her and go back to sleep.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13003781 Jacqueline Rae Shuman

    Are you tired throughout he whole day or just in the mornings??

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VYDVROKY4PUBOKUHB3QF42FH2Y Paul S

    I don’t see daylight savings as taking away an hour of sleep, rather it gives me more daylight to do fun stuff after work like run, bike, surf, hike etc.   Speaking of which, have you tried regular exercise? It may make you want to sleep more at first, but when you get into a pattern, it’ll give you more energy, and make you get up more refreshed than you would otherwise.

    • Kara Ucla

      dude, he said he had a lifelong problem. that’s one of the most obvious suggestions people always make. I’m sure he’s tried regular exercise, and just as sure that it didn’t work. /endobviousrant

  • michael

    Ugh. Unless it is at LEAST 11am, I will always feel tired, no matter how early I went to sleep the night before. It sucks.

  • toto

    Thank you! I’ve always believed my internal body clock ran differently. It IS an actual condition but nobody seems to call it anything other than “being lazy”. Around 10pm, I get really awake and start getting the most productivity out of my hours till about 6am…… I see a future in freelancing via online job, and that’s about it.

    • Daily TC Reader

      Exactly. I need to gain some skills so I can be a freelancer.

  • Anonymous

    When you were a child your parents “would go waterskiing every morning”, and “wake [you] up at dusk to take you on the speedboat with them? If your parents woke you up before nightfall in order to do something the following day, that may have something to do with it.

    • http://twitter.com/emilcDC Emil

      Damn it, that was supposed to be dawn.

      • Anonymous

        Your story is cooler this way.

  • KB

    Have you ever had a sleep study done? It is possible you could have sleep apnea. I used to wake up exhausted, no matter how much sleep I got. I didn’t know it was because I was waking up hundreds of times a night to breathe!

    • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

      more and more sure every day that i have this. need to go confirm it with the doctor.

  • http://strugglingsingletwentysomething.blogspot.com/ Katie

    I could have written this! It doesn’t matter how much sleep I get- it just takes me forever to get out of bed in the morning! 

  • Taylor

    Empathy!

  • Anonymous

    This may be a dumb question, but you’ve gone to a doctor, right?

  • KT

    It’s called Delayed Onset Circadian Rhythm Disorder. I have it. It’s a total pain in the ass. I have a flexible schedule now, so I just sleep and work whenever I want for the most part, but man. People don’t believe you when you tell them that your brain doesn’t turn on til 11 pm.

  • Karen

    I LOVE this article!

  • Jen

    This is literally my life! I set 7 alarms every morning and manage to turn all of them off without even noticing. Throughout high school my dad had to literally pull me out of bed and push me into the shower each day. Strange though, because as a child was a very early riser, and would wake up at 4 each morning to play video games or watch cartoons before school started at 8. Could there be a correlation?

  • Jamielynn

    I used to set (Literally) 5 alarms on my cell phone, and 3 seperate alarm clocks placed at different distances from my actual bed, from a few feet away- to in the next room…. and STILL manage to sleep through them (until they shut off on their own!) or turn them off in my sleep and stumble back to the comfort of my bed. 

    I am 27 years old… and I can honestly say that only in the past year have I noticed an improvement- and I believe this to be entirely due to the fact that I moved to a different apartment where my bedroom is a top floor loft with huge (we’re talking almost floor to ceiling) windows on 3 sides. Including to the east.  I have refused to put up curtains that actually BLOCK light because of this noticed improvement.. it’s huge… the sunlight coming in. 

    But rainy/overcast days though, thats a different story….

    • http://twitter.com/emilcDC Emil

      I can’t wake up in darkness. I had an awesome basement apartment once that I had to leave because it had no windows at all and I just wasn’t waking up.

  • Erinsbagley

    Move to France and find a job. Work schedules are completely flexible and you usually get in around ten, leave around 7. As you like, in other words!

    • haha

      what. omg im moving

  • http://www.authenticexperience.org/ nikkiana

    I’m like this, too.  I’m lucky that I work a freelance type job where I can set my own hours and start later in the day, so my desire to sleep in till at very earliest 9am doesn’t terribly effect my work. I wish I could be one of those people who rolls out of bed in the early morning, but for whatever reason… early morning is when  I get the most restful sleep.

  • Anonymous

    I am the sammmee way. Everyone I know recognizes this about me. Every morning when I wake up I hate my life! I want to quit my job every morning until I finally wake up- around 11.

  • Ophelia Lau

    try going gluten free/cutting down on gluten – I’ve always been bad at waking up, but I went through an especially bad period a few years ago, and cutting out glutens gave me so much more energy right away.

  • Mail

    I am like that too……no matter what time I sleep…..whether its 8 pm or 12 pm or 2 am…..I get up omly at 10am……period…….10 am is my waking time and nothing has worked to change this fact of life. I have stopped fighting it now and accepted it…..I, too, get the BEST quality sleep in the morning hours…..and my day is the best and most productive when I allow myself my natural sleep cycle of sleeping till 10 am. Naturally, I work as a freelancer and don’t have to report to anyone…..

    But believe me, this is a real thing and is probably not a sickness…..it’s not “curable” . You just have to build your life around what body configuration you find yourself with.

    I miss the extra hours waking up early could get me but it’s simply not worth the semi-conscious, groggy, irritated zombie that I am for the whole day when I wake up early…..so I guess ill simply accept the way I am and live according to my Tao.

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